• Germany edition
 
Europe needs local news in the global language
Photo: The Local

Europe needs local news in the global language

Published: 05 Feb 2013 14:16 GMT+01:00
Updated: 05 Feb 2013 14:16 GMT+01:00

An Italian programmer in Berlin, a German doctor in Barcelona, a Spanish architect in Brussels - they number in their millions, these healthy roots of a rapidly maturing European garden.

And yet, despite a flourishing generation of young adults who truly consider themselves to be Europeans, this grand union of nations is very frayed. You may have noticed. It has been mentioned in the press.

Indeed, a barrage of dismal European news - the teetering Euro, the north-south factions, the bailouts, a potential ‘Brixit’ - has left many of the union’s 500 million citizens wondering “what has the EU ever done for us?”.

Because the pro-Europeans have well and truly lost the PR initiative. That’s a tragedy, because there will be referendums and populations must be persuaded. And it’s a disgrace, because they have all the material they need to tell a winning story.

So what is that material?

Is it that the dream of freedom of movement has become reality? That there’s more trade between EU countries than ever before? That intra-European travel has become commonplace and remarkably unremarkable? Or what about the 2.5 million European students who have enriched their cultural awareness, language skills and contacts books by studying in another country?

We are all now exposed to internationalia to an extent that would have been unthinkable just three decades ago. And let’s not forget the very human product of all these mobile lives: more international romance – producing a new generation of binational, bilingual children.

This is all good news. But if the official from the EU serves it up, it won’t smell right. It will smell a bit too much like propaganda.

No, the narrative that will cement the European project is made up of the daily lives of Europe’s citizens.

Because unless we understand what makes our fellow Europeans tick we can never persuade our politicians to solve the problems that threaten our extraordinary European freedom.

Of course, the best way to understand any country is to visit it, talk to the people who live there or to live there yourself. The next best way is to read that country’s news.

But intra-European daily news reporting is practically extinct. As news organisations all over the world scrambled to update their models for the digital era, the first victims were foreign correspondents and their everyday stories giving a flavour of life elsewhere.

What we get plenty of, though, is a one-size-fits-all diet of “International News”, which tells us very little about the countries where it happens. In fact, being by definition an aberration, International News gives us an utterly narrow view of life in the country where it happens. It’s the news which could have happened anywhere.

There is of course a place for the broad-brush top-level analysis but you don’t expect to learn about life in the Czech Republic by reading an article in, say, the Economist, about the country’s first presidential debate.

Daily news is the glue of our society, defining the issues we care about and how we respond to them as a community. And since your community goes beyond your local neighbourhood, your city and even your country, daily news from around Europe should be a vital part of our lives.

But take away the Big Stuff Which Could Have Happened Anywhere and what you’re left with is the occasional rehashed quirky story, out of context and written by someone a long way from the action.

Knowledge and insight give way to hackneyed archetypes which reinforce people’s prejudices - lazy Greeks, thrifty Germans, rebellious French, responsible Scandinavians. As the economic crisis has bound the fates of reluctant Europeans together, media clichés have been driving the continent further apart.

If you are an expat, if you travel or do business internationally, if you study abroad or have friends and family in other countries, then you need to know what’s happening around Europe.

But then, you know that, because you are reading this article. There are millions more like you and at The Local we are doing our best to spread this news, these small snapshots of life that together form the essence of nations, to as many people as possible.

Local daily news from around the continent will break down barriers and bring us closer together. And if it helps voters to understand how much they have in common, then it might just change the destiny of Europe.

Paul Rapacioli, CEO, The Local

Twitter: @paulrapacioli

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right
Today's headlines
Merkel targets 'shadow banks' in Lindau speech
Chancellor Angela Merkel opens the 2014 Lindau meetings. Photo: DPA

Merkel targets 'shadow banks' in Lindau speech

Chancellor Angela Merkel has opened an economics conference in Lindau, Bavaria, with a call for more regulation of so-called shadow banks. READ  

Dying town centres seek the miracle cure
A senior couple walk down Delmenhorst's main pedestrian promenade, amid a string of empty shops. Photo: Tomas Urbina

Dying town centres seek the miracle cure

Home to two-thirds of Germany's population, many of its small cities and towns are struggling to revive their declining centres. The Local's Tomas Urbina reports from Delmenhorst in Lower Saxony, as it tries to dig its way out of the economic doldrums. READ  

Quick-thinking trucker stops wrong-way driver
Signs warning drivers against entering a motorway off-road. Photo: DPA

Quick-thinking trucker stops wrong-way driver

Erich Mairleitner thought Tuesday would be another ordinary day hauling a load along the A3 motorway, but found himself the hero of the hour after stepping in to stop an accident. READ  

Germany ready to send arms to Iraqi Kurds
Usula van der Leyen and Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Photo: DPA

Germany ready to send arms to Iraqi Kurds

Germany is ready to send weapons to support Iraqi Kurds in their battle against the "barbaric" jihadist militants of the Islamic State, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Wednesday. READ  

The Local List
10 things to do before summer is really over
Photo: DPA

10 things to do before summer is really over

The German weather service (DWD) is blaming "Wild Wilma" for blanketing the country in cooler temperatures, but we know it's going to get a lot colder before the end of summer. This week's Local List challenges you to take advantage before autumn really sets in. READ  

Energy policy falls foul of federal auditors
Lightning illuminates the sky above a wind turbine. Photo: DPA

Energy policy falls foul of federal auditors

The Federal Court of Auditors (BRH) has sharply criticized Chancellor Angela Merkel's energy policy, saying that the previous coalition government failed to produce adequate financial plans. READ  

China orders German's execution for murders
A paramilitary guard stands inside Beijing's No.1 Detention Centre. Photo: DPA

China orders German's execution for murders

Update: A German man has been condemned to death in China for murdering his ex-girlfriend and her partner in a frenzied attack, it was reported on Wednesday. READ  

German aid planes to Iraq delayed
All filled up and nowhere to go. Photo: DPA

German aid planes to Iraq delayed

A German military flight to the conflict-addled region in northern Iraq has been delayed because Turkey denied landing permission for the layover at Incirlik airbase, according to a spokesman for the air force. READ  

Bomb shuts down A3 motorway
Photo: DPA

Bomb shuts down A3 motorway

A controlled detonation of a 500-kg bomb from the Second World War has left a 20-metre-wide crater in the middle of one of Germany's busiest traffic corridors on Tuesday night. READ  

Saxony schools get top marks
Photo: DPA

Saxony schools get top marks

A country-wide analysis has shown that Saxony has the best schools and Berlin has a lot of homework to do. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Culture
Sprechen Sie Deutsch? 10 reasons why you should.
Photo: DPA
National
Berlin's senate puts the brakes on Über
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The mysteries of Berlin's abandoned theme park
Photo: DPA
Culture
How I deal with my German Hausmeister
Photo: Ingrid Eulenfan/flickr
Gallery
Nine German treats you'll want to eat right now (and one you won't)
Photo: DPA
Society
Who's getting German citizenship?
Photo: DPA
Culture
How World War I changed Germany forever
Photo: APA/DPA
Gallery
The 12 best words in Austrian German
Photo: DPA
Society
'Look at those German shanty towns!'
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Education
Raising the bar for law & business in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual school turning education on its head
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,315
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd